Provocative New Book Provides Detailed Roadmap for New Ways to Invest in Social, Financial and Environmental Systems

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21st Century Investing outlines how institutions and individuals can go beyond conventional and sustainable investing to address complex problems such as income inequality and climate change on a deep, systemic level.

“This book is one of the most important we’ve worked on in our 28-year history,” said Berrett-Koehler’s Founder Steve Piersanti. “There is a revolution unfolding in investing and Burckart and Lydenberg provide a front row seat to the important changes taking place."

21st Century Investing: Redirecting Financial Strategies to Drive Systems Change, debuted today, providing a practical roadmap for investing in new ways that can contend with the complex challenges we face in the 21st century.

In this paradigm-shifting book, authors William Burckart and Steve Lydenberg show how system-level investors support and enhance the health and stability of the social, financial, and environmental systems on which they depend for long-term returns. Investors can preserve and strengthen these fundamental systems while still generating competitive or otherwise acceptable performance.

The authors explain how investment today has evolved from the basic, conventional approach of the 1950s. Investors have since recognized the importance of sustainable investment and have begun considering environmental and social factors. Yet the complexity of the times forces us to recognize and transition to a third stage of investment practice: system-level investing.

“Burckart and Lydenberg are the Wayne Gretzkys of investing, showing us not where investing is, but where it’s going: To system-level investing,” said Jon Lukomnik, Managing Partner, Sinclair Capital; Senior Fellow, High Meadows Institute, in his endorsement of the book.. “Even more importantly, they show us how to get there.”

The book, published by Berrett-Koehler, an independent publisher with the mission of connecting people and ideas to create a world that works for all, highlights several examples of systems-level investors in the U.S. and abroad:

  • The Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) of Japan, one of the largest pension funds in the world, is a self-identified “universal owner.” By this, GPIF means it is so large that it takes ownership positions in most investable assets around the world. It therefore maintains that taking into account ESG factors will increase its “risk-adjusted return by reducing risks,” and that “the longer the investment horizon is the greater the risk-reduction effect becomes.”
  • Investors with long-term time horizons, like Norges Bank Investment Management, recognize that the further out they look the more their interests and those of society coincide. The greater their commitment to a long-term approach, the more they value the health of underlying systems.
  • The Church of England Pensions Board asserts that a range of “stewardship responsibilities” including ESG matters is essential to its long-term fiduciary duties and obligations. The practice of stewardship acknowledges investors’ ownership obligations to consider the financial implications of practices with broad societal implications, thereby transcending the conventional “financial only” view implicit in conventional market-based buy-and-sell disciplines.
  • Self-identified impact investors such as the KL Felicitas Foundation intentionally seek to generate social and environmental benefit through their investments along with financial returns. In addition, as part of their commitment to essentially “bet the farm” on impact investing, Felicitas has extended its mission to enabling the global financial system to achieve greater social and environmental impact.
  • The California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS) is an example of how an investment beliefs statement can take a systemic perspective. CalPERS states that it “believes that encouraging our external managers, portfolio companies, and policy makers to engage in responsible environmental practices is important to risk management. This means making wise use of scarce resources, considering impact, and addressing systemic risks, such as climate change.”

“This book is one of the most important we’ve worked on in our 38-year history,” said Berrett-Koehler’s Founder Steve Piersanti. “There is a revolution unfolding in investing and Burckart and Lydenberg provide a front row seat to the important changes taking place. This book is going to make a difference in the world!”

21st Century Investing grew out of deep research and consulting Burckart and Lydenberg have been conducting at TIIP, an applied research and consulting firm launched in 2016. Working with institutional investors, individuals and groups like the Money Management Institute, CFA Institute, UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) and others, they found that these investors and industry associations think long-term and recognize that the 21st century faces fundamentally destabilizing, new and different, social and environmental challenges. They are global. They have tipping points that once passed cannot be reversed. And they threaten the long-term investment returns in ways that traditional risk management cannot cope with.

“21st Century Investing has to be top of mind for any long-term capital allocator,” said Kirsty Jenkinson, Investment Director, Sustainable Investment & Stewardship Strategies, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS), in her endorsement of the book. “Burckart and Lydenberg’s work is essential reading for any investor that is serious about enabling the transition to a more sustainable global economy.”

About the Authors
William Burckart leads TIIP. He is also a fellow of the High Meadows Institute and member of the advisory council of the Investments and Wealth Institute’s WealthBoard 100. Burckart previously founded or cofounded two impact investment advisory firms, Burckart Consulting and Impact Economy North America.

Steve Lydenberg is the founder of TIIP and also serves as partner, strategic vision, of Domini Impact Investments. Lydenberg was a cofounder of KLD Research and Analytics Inc. and served as its research director from 1990 to 2001. From 1987 to 1989, he was an associate with Franklin Research and Development Corporation (now known as Trillium Asset Management).

About TIIP- The Investment Integration Project
TIIP is an applied research and consulting services firm which helps investors understand the feedback loops between their investments and the planet’s overarching systems – be they environmental, societal or financial – that make profitable investment opportunities possible. In deeply collaborative engagements, TIIP provides investors with the insights and tools to manage the impacts of their investment policies and practices on these systems. More information is available at

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